I’ve been puzzling more about the content for this term’s Dreams & Reality project. It’s such a wide brief as to be almost paralysing. Virtually anything could fall under its wing. But what? Working out what it is I want to include is driving me slightly potty.
I mean, a few weeks back I succumbed to a mad baking phase. And I mean mad. Son was starting his A-levels, I was insanely stressed on his behalf (talk about living vicariously) and the only thing that helped was baking all manner of stuff that I had never made before. Bread; cakes; cookies; muffins… pretzel buns for God’s sake. I couldn’t do his revision for him, but I could bloody well feed him. On one day I presented him with said pretzel buns AND a lemon drizzle cake. At which point he looked at me quizzically and told me, “You’ve gone f***ing nuts”.
He was right. And here is the proof:
It occurred to me (as I merrily – if nuttily – washed up yet another mixing bowl), that I was morphing into some sort of Stepford Wife crossed with Mary Berry. The perfect mother – a dream version of the reality. And for a short space of time, I even considered including photographs of my culinary creations (the dream) alongside the complete warzone that was the reality of my tiny kitchen in the aftermath. Sheesh, I could even do a timelapse of me at work, I reasoned.
So, I fired off this lot mid-bake without thinking or planning or anything other than available light. And it shows.
What I took from the practice is that taking decent pictures when your hands are covered in dough is bloody hard. I hate these shots.
But how can you make something that looks so horrible, look good without faking it? Therein lies the question. I know the sort of cold, stark, grungy feel that I’d want if I was to explore this idea further. Wolfgang Tillmans could knock this off in a second. But me? I don’t know if I can be bothered to spend the time it would take me to make shit shots like these look good – in a shit sort of way. If you know what I mean.
Plus, my son is now avoiding carbs.
So, figuring I was being too literal, I moved on. I went to the Barbican’s “Another Kind of Life” exhibition, seeking I don’t know what. Whatever it was, I didn’t find it. “Touching on themes of countercultures, subcultures and minorities of all kinds”, it was undoubtedly thought-provoking. Aesthetically, though, only a handful of photographs actually made me stop and stare. I didn’t come away thinking “How do they do that? I want to do that.” Maybe I’m just not a reportage kinda-girl. We shall see.
So for now, it’s back to my whole abstract vibe. The more I delve into this project, the more it seems that the work I like best – and am enjoying producing most – is normality with a twist. The every day, based in fact but a little warped. And isn’t that what all the best dreams are?
The shots below are two-takes on a garden gate. Plus one of my bathroom window reflected on a hall mirror. I loved the fall of natural light; the subtlety of shade. I also love how their truth is played with. They’re not quite what they are and leave you guessing. Or, at least, they do me.